A visit to London must surely include a boat trip on the Thames. Reasonably priced and interesting for everyone. I would recommend doing this early on during your trip because from the river, you can get your bearings and identify historical sites like the Tower of London that you may wish to add to your list of places to visit on land.
Instead of fighting the crowds in Notre Dame, take the Metro (line 13 - Direction St. Denis-Universite) to St.-Denis Basilique to visit the great basilica of St. Denis.
It is in a poor district, but the church is superb, and not well-known. It is where the Gothic style was invented by the Abbe Suger from 1138 to 1144 (the East end), while the nave and transepts are even more spectacular.
It has some of the most beautiful stained glass in France, some of it at eye level, far easier to appreciate than Chartres, and it was the burial place of the French royal family: 46 kings, 32 queens, and 63 royal children were buried there, including Marie Antoinetee and Louis XVI, and there are many superb effigies, though the bodies were thrown out at the Revolution.
For a glimpse of the Paris of Toulouse Lautrec visit Chartier, a restaurant which looks as if it hasn't changed in a hundred years. It's cheap, cheerful and full of Parisians. Find it in the Rue du Faubourg de Montmartre
Portsmouth is the oldest colonial town in new Hampshire and settled only three years after Plymouth colony in 1623. Much of the colonial history and architecture is maintained in an area known as Strawberry Bank. Some of the best restaurants and shopping in New England can also be found in Portsmouth.
Take the metro to Boulogne Pont de St-Cloud, and take a short walk to the Jardin Albert Kahn.
There are very attractive gardens and a little museum which has exhibitions of the photographs and films that he commissioned between 1909 - 1931. This remarkable man sent photographers to remote areas of the world to record the people and how they lived. There has recently been a documentary on television about him and the amazing collection.
It is possible to purchase postcards and posters in the small shop. Unfortunately, the salon de the in the Palm house is not open because the building needs urgent renovation, but there are bars and brasseries next to the metro entrances. This was a fascinating place to visit and is off the usual tourist trail. Highly recommended.
I will treasure the memory of joining the St George's Day celebration in Lalibela. It is impossible to describe the feeling of mingling with the crowds of people, mainly wrapped in white, walking along the deep rock hewn corridors, kicking off the sandals and forcing your way into the church.
An earlier fantastic memory was walking along the day before and suddenly seeing St Giyorgis sunk into the rock.
A less pleasant memory was fleas in the carpets of the churches! Do take something for the fleas as they can migrate to the bedding.
Discover an oasis of calm. Go to the Beguinage, a beautiful small green and shaded space flanked by distinctive white buildings and crossed with paths. Sisters of the religious St. Benedict order have taken the place of the former beguines of the former cloistered community. Its atmosphere is wonderfully serene.
The Begijnhof is just off Wijngaardplein and has a shop, church and small museum. There are signs asking people to be silent (though not always obeyed).
This hotel is in a beautiful colonial building in the old town of Quito. The location is ideal, the staff are friendly and the rooms are comfortable with hot water. The suites also have a small kitchenette.
It is also resonably priced for a capital city. Suites at US$42 and all other rooms for less.
cnr. Av. Guayaquil and Sucre.
The Chateau de Villandry and, especially, its gardens, are highly recommended if you are near Tours, or well worth going out of your way to visit if you are travelling through France.
The gardens in particular are delightful and anyone interested in growing vegetables as well as flowers will be thrilled by the extensive collections of plants set out in formal and ornamental beds surrounding this beautiful Loire chateau.
The buildings and gardens were rescued by Dr Joachim Carvallo in 1906 and have been in the care of his family ever since. Excellent shop and grounds with good access for people with mobility difficulties.
Chateau de Villandry, 37510 Villandry, near Tours, France. On route D7, some 14km west of Tours. www.chateauvillandry.com Ample free parking nearby.
If the weather is fine, the convent is a nice place to wander around for a reasonable entrance fee. It is an interesting insight into the past and the living conditions, plus some good photo opportunities.
The Convent is near the main square in the center of Araquipa. It is well advertised and signposted so you can't miss it.
Forget the mega cash cow that is the Yankees (Manyoo of baseball) as a Mets game helps you get under the skin of US culture and out into New York proper where the locals live and play.
Don't expect a footy crowd atmosphere but do soak up the family-orientated game that combines Mexican waves with drinking overpriced Bud and eating as much saturated fat as you can in three hours. Over 50k in Shea Stadium and even then it didn't seem full. What a great experience!
Get your cap and t-shirt, along with your tickets from the club shop on 42nd St near 6th Ave. Paid about 30 quid for two tickets but they start from only $9 (yes, $9!) depending on where you want to sit.
Brand new stadium being built next door opening in the next couple of years so you better be quick to get a sense of the history of Shea.
Take the 7 subway all the way from either Times Sq/42nd or Grand Central. The express misses out some of the local stops. The return is very simple as they run lots of trains so there's not much jostling to get a train.
Interesting alternative would be the ferry from South Street Seaport. Think it's only about $20 return.
Shea Stadium, Queens.
Take the '7' subway line from Manhattan
The Musee des Beaux Arts is highly recommended as it offers a fine collection of both painting and sculpture, and furniture, set in a building of considerable beauty and architectural interest.
Highlights include an outstanding group of Italian, French and Flemish paintings from the later Middle Ages donated by a local benefactor, a group that has been strengthened by the addition of two panels by Mantegna. Other very good pieces come from succeeding centuries and include work by Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Monet and Rodin. Altogether this is a first rate collection. The museum is set in a fine garden, and nearby is a huge 200-year-old Cedar of Lebanon.
Across from this tree and behind glass there is a stuffed elephant, once part of Barnum's Circus. This beast died while the circus visited Tours, just before World War I, and was promptly de-boned, stuffed and mounted. The result on show here is somewhat bizarre and looks like a very large, grey, hot-water bottle with four legs and a trunk. Worth a look, but the museum is the highlight.
Next to the cathedral in Tours city centre, 18 place Francois Sicard 37000 Tours. Note the museum is closed on Tuesdays. email@example.com
The chateau and the little town of Azay-le-Rideau are beautiful and justly popular. The chateau is a compact, wedding cake of pale stone, with its many turrets and pinnacles reflected in the moat that surrounds the entire building. It is set in parkland, and there are fine outbuildings, including stables.
There is a good museum shop with mementoes as well as scholarly material. Much of the town centre is pedestrianised and there is a large number of good hotels, restaurants and bars. Parking is plentiful.
The place is usually busy at peak holiday times but it can accommodate large numbers of visitors. Go out of the main season if you want it more or less to yourself.
Azay-le-Rideau is just off the D751, roughly halfway between Chinon and Tours, in the Touraine, France. Chateau Azay-le-Rideau 37190. www.monuments-nationaux.fr
The house and garden of the painter, Claude Monet (1840-1926), are now so popular that it is difficult to explore them without being accompanied, four abreast, by hundreds of people all keen to see and photograph every last feature of his kitchen, dining room, iris bed, wisteria arch and lily pool. But persist! The effort is worth it, especially if you can avoid the peak holiday periods.
The place is very beautiful, highly evocative and thoroughly well maintained. Everywhere you look, the paintings Monet created between 1883 up to his death are marvellously brought to life.
The inevitable shop, which is housed in the painter's former studio, where the huge waterlily paintings were made, is worthwhile and comprehensive. There are extensive free car parks nearby.
Fondation Claude Monet, 84 rue Claude Monet - 27620 Giverny, Eure, France. Tel (0033)(0)2 32 51 28 21. Entry 5.50 euro per person. www.fondation-monet.com
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org